Title  : Nightmare Creatures
Platforms  : Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation, Windows
Publisher  : Activision
Game Rating  : 4.5
Review by  : Ken Gagne

See the world! Fight monstrous creatures! Sounds like a dream of a game, but it isn't — it's Nightmare Creatures, a Nintendo 64 version of last year's PlayStation bomb, developed by Kalisto and published by Activision. (Also available for PC) 

In 1666, the Great Fire swept London, destroying the secret Brotherhood of Hecate, a society with plans to take over the world or destroy it with virii capable of turning people into monsters. Now, in 1834, the diary of one of the original members has fallen into the wrong hands, and London is again threatened. It's up to Nadia and Father Ignatius to see no evil befalls the world. 

Gameplay is 3D over-the-shoulder, reminiscent of Tomb Raider and Deathtrap Dungeon, but the control is not as easy to use. Characters can jump backward, but not run; items must be manually picked up, not just walked over; and there is no configuration option. 

The camera follows the player's action slowly, if at all, so Up on the control stick does not always translate to Forward into the screen. Other times it switches to a distant point of action, trying to create a dramatic atmosphere, but confusing gameplay instead. 

The game's challenge derives predominantly from battle. There are various combos of weapon and kick attacks, but it all comes down to button mashing. Enemies emerge frequently and with little variety, and fall easily to the basic attacks. 

The setting is dark; set the light management meter to maximum if you're to have any hope of seeing where you're stumbling. The only feature that may mark the town as London is the fog that unimpressively rolls by the characters' feet. 

The sprites themselves move jerkily, lacking frames of animation necessary to be fluid. Monsters can appear out of nowhere, yet lack any nightmare-inducing quality of appearance. 

The music is unnoticeable. Exploding barrels, falling fences, and moaning zombies try to supply the atmosphere instead, but also fail. 

There are two major documentation errors. First, the packaging does not state that games can be saved to the memory pak, although a password system is also available. Second, the manual refers to the C-buttons as the "control pad," so if it defines a function for Control Pad Up, it means C-Up. 

Nightmare Creatures lacks any significant fun factor. It's a gauntlet of random attacks against a not-so-wide variety of mundane monsters who are just as poorly seen as heard. If the game's name is any indication of the developer's intent, the only place it succeeds in scaring is the game itself — a true "nightmare creature."


This article is copyright (c) 1999, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 11-Jan-99